Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I Fear

I have been thinking about how many real fears I have. And so, I thought I'd share them. A few are understandable, and others are more phobias than fears, and some are just wacky, but this is me. They are not in order of importance and are pretty much equal on my fright scale.

I would assume most intelligent folks, fear snakes. Many can kill one without blinking an eye. I scream and run. They absolutely terrify me. I was sharing with SR the other day, my thankfulness that we now live in an area that only occasionally harbors the wicked creatures. Our home in Rison was in the middle of dense woods and thickets. Prime real estate for reptiles. I had a death defying encounter one day. Our front porch was pretty low to the ground considering it was on a raised foundation. Only a foot or so off the ground. I accidentally kicked over a flower pot and it landed on the ground beside our steps. At first I thought to just bend over from the porch and retrieve it, but changed my mind and decided to step down and take care of it. When I did, I noticed a rattler coiled and ready to strike, had my hand reached down in front of him. I screamed at the top of my lungs (as they say) and SR promptly disposed of said rattler. Two other times I came in close contact with a Copperhead, and he almost reached down before he saw one in the wood pile one day. It's a miracle my children were never bitten. God is good.

And by height, I mean anything taller than myself. I can manage a ladder if it is close to a wall, and it's not over five feet tall. Anything else and I'm useless. I don't do high towers with glass observation areas or ferris wheels. LeLe and J still make fun of me covering my face as we drove over the bridge at Greenville, Mississippi. I would probably have been fine, had the bridge not traveled in such an arch. Yes, I would have preferred a straight-across bridge.

Once when I was very young, Mom took us to the school playground. There lived a metal climbing tower in this playground and it beckoned. I estimate it was fifteen feet high and had metal rungs on all four sides, leading up to the platform. I shimmied up those rungs in a heartbeat, reached the top and immediately froze in terror. I was so afraid I would fall trying to come down, that I became demented. I actually asked my mother if I could just jump down. I don't remember how long it took her to talk me down, but I remember the event as if it was yesterday.

Now how could I be afraid of a little mouse? They are so cute and adorable....unless they bite and spread not only pain but disease. I can't sleep if I have any inclination to believe there may be one in the room or wall. Once when I was very young (a pattern seems to be developing here) I spent the night with my family, at my grandparent's cabin on Saline River. Mice ran up and down the wall all night. I complained to my mother, who shooed me and told me to go to sleep. The next morning, she admitted one had crawled over her in the bed. OMG. One other time I was staying at a friend's house, watching her son for her while she was on a business trip. I could hear mice everywhere in the room and could not sleep for the fear of being touched by the creatures. I was restless and turned over in the bed, and I heard a very loud "PLUNK!" as one of them fell off the bed. Needless to say, I called my Dad and was told to come to the house. I didn't watch her child for her again.

Many would say that I am just weak and I allow people to use me as a doormat. I don't think I do. I honestly can not tolerate the thought that I am the cause of someone else's grief. I have never been able to think quickly enough to defend myself and so I become quiet. I lack the fortitude to stand my ground on pretty much anything. (Unless it was the time J was suspended for defending himself at school and I had to defend him) When normal people gather around two others who are having words, or are actually fighting physically, I run the other way. I leave the room. I agree with what I have to and get out of Dodge. It's how I'm made and it's how I cope.

Driving in heavy traffic and unfamiliar places
For some reason, if I don't know exactly where I'm going, and how to get there, I get very nervous. It's very inconvenient. I don't understand it, and it's a bit embarrassing. But, imagine how a claustrophobic feels in an elevator. That is how I feel if I find myself on an unfamiliar road and I'm not sure how I got there, or how I'm going to find my way back. When SR and I went shopping for a new vehicle, I test drove one in Little Rock. I drove down I630, comfortable in knowing where I was. In returning, I took the wrong exit back to the dealership. Imagine SR's fear as I totally freaked out at the stop light, because I didn't know where the stop sign was in relation to the dealership, and how was I going to get back, and what lane do I need to be in, and where do I turn.....well, you get the idea. This makes it very hard to enjoy myself if I have to drive anywhere.

Not death, because I am totally sure of where I'll be going when I leave. It's the mode of transportation that I fear. I think most Christians would admit the same. We would all love to die in our sleep, or be taken up with the Lord into the clouds. How many of us will actually experience that? Will I go in a car accident? A traumatic event? A terminal illness? I fear the pain and suffering. Any intelligent person would. But as the song asks, "I know where I'm going, don't you wanna come too?"

Nursing Homes
I know they are a wonderful thing. And I know they are not evil. In fact, they are a much needed option for many families. But I fear the residents. It's not hard for me to be around the elderly who are lucid and their bodies are just giving out. But I have no clue how to respond to someone who has dementia. Do you go along with them? Do you tell them they are crazy? Do you try to explain the truth? My grandmother's dementia was so severe in her last couple of years, that I had to make myself go see her occasionally, but never stayed more than a few minutes. I didn't know how to deal with her dream world.
I know sooner or later I'll wind up a resident. But I can't imagine anything worse than being in a place like that and in your right mind. The smells, the sounds, and the inability to make your own decisions is just heartbreaking. I hope when the time comes, I go the way of my grandmother. Maybe I'll believe my deceased husband has really just left me to live with a "spotted woman" and their newborn.

Those are my main fears. There are others, but they pale in comparison to these. You now have a good idea of how my mind really works....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The House and MRIs

Just hanging out while my wonderful brother-in-law begins putting the new flooring down in my house. I'm moving room to room, looking for ways to keep myself occupied without getting in the way. I don't have a clue how to help, and would be more trouble than help if I tried.

My house is not the most expensive thing in the world by any means. It was built by a contractor to sell. It has most of the inexpensive finishes that come with that kind of construction, but coming from the house in Rison, it's sooo much nicer. That house fulfilled it's purpose and served us well. But, it was nothing fancy, and had quite a few quirks and things that really needed remodeling. This house was brand new, and built to entice a buyer. I will eventually replace the lighting fixtures in the bathrooms, and someday maybe I can build a roof over the back porch. The usual carpet and vinyl will now be replaced by a much nicer laminate. The nicest floor I've ever had and I'm thrilled about it.

My children were raised in that house in Rison. So, it still holds a lot of sentimental value for me. The front closet door held all the growth markings for J, LeLe, and my two nephews. When we were just about finished moving everything out, I opened that door to make sure the closet was empty, and began crying. It almost destroyed me to leave that door. SR looked at me and asked if I wanted to take it with us. I could have jumped for joy! He promptly took it off the hinges and we loaded it up. Of course we replaced it for the new owners. That door is hung on my garage wall now, and I can look at it and remember anytime I want. It's like the piece of porch J carved in. It will go with us no matter where we go, no matter where we live. If we can't take it with us, it will go to one of the kids. They must promise to never let us know if they do away with it. (Sad face and boo hoo here)

I didn't post about Mom's MRI appointment beforehand, because we didn't want anyone to worry about it. The CT scan she had showed that her chest, abdomen, and pelvic area were all clear, but it showed some spots on her skull that our Nurse Practitioner was concerned about. Thus the MRI yesterday. The report showed nothing to be concerned about. Not sure what the spots are exactly, but they are benign and that is all the matters. Big sigh of relief here!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Story About My Father

I've been missing my Dad. And I remembered something that happened while he was so sick with the cancer. Before I tell that story, I thought I'd write a little about his life.

Dad was born in Cleveland county, the second of three children. Life was hard back in the 1930's, especially in rural areas. Everyone had to do their part, and he worked hard as a child. One day when he was around 7 years of age, his mother left him and his siblings, at her parent's house, and drove away in a car with a man who was not their father. My Dad never saw her again. It has been speculated that she intended to return to collect her children and my grandfather didn't allow her to see them. No one really knows exactly why she left, or if she intended to leave them permanently. She never spoke of it to her family except to say she loved all her children. Those three included.

My grandfather remarried, and my Dad believed his stepmother to be an angel who rescued them from hell. His life after my grandmother left, was something out of a novel. He was known later to say that Marine boot camp was a picnic after his childhood. His two siblings made peace with their mother, and her subsequent children by her second husband, but my Dad never did. The hurt ran too deep. I was fortunate enough to meet her one day, while visiting Dad's sister. I didn't realize the importance of that meeting. Now it breaks my heart that I didn't pay more attention to her. But I was a young teenager spending time with my cousins and that was my focus. Not a lady who I knew was related to me, but I'd never met.

In the year of 1997, I was in the middle of some intense family history research. I found and contacted my grandmother's side of the family and was able to convince my father to meet his siblings. I regret I didn't started earlier, because my grandmother passed away that very year. But, before my father became so terribly ill, he was able to gather with his two full siblings, and four of his half siblings.

My aunt told us about when my grandmother was in the hospital. Granny (as my cousins told me she was called) told them that angels were sitting on the shelf in her hospital room. No one but she saw them, but she kept trying to look around her children standing in the room, to get a better view.

While my Dad was so terribly ill with his cancer one day, he believes an angel sat on his shoulder and told him to, in essence, let go because everything was going to be ok. From that time on, he came to grips with his impending death.

I believe in Angels. The Bible is very firm on their existence. I'm thankful that God sends them to comfort us in times of great hardship, whether we see them or not. At this point, I think it might be scary to see one, but I have to believe they have the power to comfort and calm us when we do see them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More on Mom

We visited the oncologist this afternoon. All scans and labs show Mom is still cancer free. She has been dealing with low back pain, that has been almost debilitating, so the doctor is going to set her up with a spine doctor to see if he can give her any relief. She has not been able to walk more than a few feet without having severe pain. That makes it hard to do the things she loves, such as work in the yard, and go shopping. Hopefully, things will get better soon.

On a different topic, I've agreed to work one day a week at the clinic. It will give me something to do away from the house, give me a little spending moolah, and help them out. I don't really miss the work at all, but I do miss the girls. We will see if this works out well for all of us.

The rain has kept me from doing much in the yard. I hope to get out there tomorrow, and plant a few more flowers. I now have about a dozen Goldfinches that keep my bird feeders empty. The bright yellow and black birds are beautiful to see first thing every morning, rain or shine.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Home Again...Jiggity Jig

It has been a long hard week. First order of business:

A shout out to all my peeps on facebook! Thank you so much for your encouraging words and prayers. I really appreciate it.

The story:

Tuesday, Mom and I visited our family clinic due to some ongoing pain and unexplained weight gain and chest pain. Nurse Practitioner said her heart sounded great, and the chest pain could be caused by thyroid issues, so lab was drawn. Since we hadn't had a full body CT scan, nurse ordered that and the following day, we headed out to HSC Med center in Malvern for a ct of the head, chest, abdomen and pelvis. The lab came back with a normal thyroid but very high triglycerides. (must run in the family cause mine are always outrageously high)

Wednesday evening, Mom called me upset because her chest was hurting badly, her head hurt and she was having bouts of feeling flushed, so we took a trip to the HSC ER after I gave her an aspirin. I have to stop at this point and commend the staff at HSC. Eventhough they were dealing with a couple of traumas, they were extremely quick to get Mom back and took excellent care of her. Her ekg was great, the nurse telling her she had the heart of a 16 year old. They had the results of the ct by that time, and nothing showed up in her chest, abdomen or pelvis to cause this kind of pain. It was also a relief to know the cancer had not come back to her pelvic area. The doctor on call, put her in a room for observation.

As soon as Mom learned it was not her heart, she began to relax and feel better. By the time I left at 1:30 a.m., she was in her room and feeling fine but just a little tired. I returned Thursday expecting to see the doctor at some point. Instead, we saw his nurse, who took a great amount of time to talk with us and determine what all was going on and what to tell the doctor. We understood her to say the doctor would be in sometime that day, but she didn't know when. Until that time, Mom could not go home. He would have to see her first. At 9:40 p.m. he still had not come in, so I drove home and Mom spent another night.

This morning, before I made it back over there, the doctor came in and told Mom that he believed her pain was muscular in nature but he commended her on coming to the ER. He told her it was the right thing to do any time you have any kind of chest pain. He wants her see her next week for a follow up.

We are both home now, and tired does not come close to describing what I feel. I've been texting my siblings a lot, and for some reason, the phone service held one text back from one of them, and at 3:30 a.m. I was awakened by a text message I should have received early last evening. I was NOT happy, but was so disoriented that I automatically answered it. So, my sister probably got a reply at 3:33 a.m. Sorry about that Sister #1.

Anyway, all is well for now. We have a follow up appt at the clinic next Friday. And we also have a follow up appointment with Mom's oncologist on Monday afternoon.

Thanks again for your prayers and concern. They are very very much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mother Dear

It's been a while since I posted anything about my Mom. She has been doing pretty well, all things considered. There has been an ongoing problem with pain in her lower back and lower body. The oncologist wanted her to have physical therapy. The Rheumatologist wanted her to think about surgery on her back. We were not crazy about either suggestion. So, today I took her to see my personal nurse practitioner/friend. The one I worked for and still do from time to time. Being a cancer survivor herself, she has what I believe, is a better understanding of things. She believes the pain is related to chemotherapy. She was also disturbed to find out the oncologist has not done a full body CT scan. So, she set that up for tomorrow morning, bright and early. She also increased the frequency of pain medication Mom takes, and took some blood to see if her thyroid is out of wack.

Mom sees the oncologist next Monday, and I would like to have an idea of what is actually going on when that happens. The scan and lab may not show anything of import. But at least we will know.

Friday, April 10, 2009

View from the Window

Ok, I know I seem obsessed with birds and gardening now. But, God did tell me they were His gift to me. I ran out of birdseed and the poor things nearly starved the one day they were without.... uh, well.... I purchased more today, filled the feeders and was rewarded royally. The Gold Finches appeared in abundance. So, I slipped up to the window in my back door and tried to catch them on my camera.

While I had the camera aimed, a Hummingbird flew up and I was delighted to catch him too.

The day was very windy, but the sun was awesome, and I finally planted something else in the front flower bed. I don't really know what it is, but it hangs nicely, and will cascade over the blocks if all goes as planned.

The azaleas are getting ready to bloom, finally. Everyone else in the world has azaleas already blooming. I don't know what it is, but everything I have, have ever had, always, without fail, blooms after everyone else's do. I will post a picture of mine in full bloom if they ever do.

Tomorrow I plan to paint the metal bed I'm working on. If it turns out well, I'll post the before and afters in a day or so.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Break in the Rain

The last two days have been glorious. This is the time of year when April Showers bring May Flowers though, so it's not sunny every day. I took the opportunity to work in the flower beds in the front yard, and to add a new bed during the three days of sunshine we've had lately. They were not consecutive days, so a bit at a time was done. I'm posting the before and after photos.

We added some cedar mulch to the two existing beds, after clearing out the old ugly lava rock.

I then planted some Hostas between the Azaleas in the higher bed.

I will add some flowering plants in a another couple of weeks when the garden centers have more to choose from.

The next sunny day, I started creating a bed along side the garage wall.
Before I started:

Next step:

Getting the edging down and even, and adding a paver to hold a large pot. We hope this will help camouflage the foundation stucco, and be a nice addition.


There is an Elephant Ear planted in the pot and waiting to sprout into large green leaves, and I will add some flowering plants later, when I add them to the other bed. All in all, a good week's work I'd say.

I have several other projects in the works. I bought an old metal bed and will begin transforming it into something nicer for my guest bedroom. We have made plans to replace our old carpet and vinyl flooring with wood laminate and toward the last of the month, we hope to get that installed. I will of course, post before and after shots of those things, in case anyone is interested.